Volk­sWa­gen Polo 1.0 MPI

We’re be­hind the wheel of Volk­swa­gen’s mintyfresh Polo 1.0-litre petrol it­er­a­tion. Does it have what it takes to dom­i­nate the mar­ket?

Car India - - CONTENTS - Story: Har­ket Suchde Pho­tog­ra­phy: San­jay Raikar

Down­sized with an Up!-sized 1.0-litre en­gine

WHEN THE POLO FIRST AR­RIVED IN IN­DIA in 2010, it came with the op­tion of a 1.2-litre three-pot petrol en­gine or a tasty 1.6-litre in-line four. Those days are long gone now. We’re liv­ing in the era of keto di­ets and Crossfit and even cowork­ing spa­ces. Ev­ery­thing is be­com­ing leaner, tighter, and more ef­fi­cient; so why should cars be any dif­fer­ent? The new Polo is one of the cars that have gone the down­siz­ing route. It has re­ceived a new heart, one that runs on three cylin­ders and dis­places 999 cu­bic cen­time­tres. There are a few ad­di­tional bits and bobs on the in­side; how­ever, vis­ually, this Polo looks ex­actly as be­fore.

While it has al­ways been a smart-look­ing car, the Polo’s de­sign looks a lit­tle dated com­pared to its more mod­ern con­tem­po­raries, es­pe­cially since it was con­sid­ered one of the more in­con­spic­u­ous de­signs even when it was first launched eight years ago. I do like the 16-inch al­loy wheels on this top-end High­line Plus vari­ant, though.

The in­te­rior, too, is fa­mil­iar, al­though this vari­ant does get an all-black treat­ment and two-tone beige and black seats. It also gets a front arm­rest and rear air-con vents, an auto-dim­ming rear-view mir­ror, and rain-sens­ing wipers. Fea­tures in­clude a touch­screen in­fo­tain­ment sys­tem equipped with Ap­ple CarPlay, Mir­rorLink and An­droid Auto, and steer­ing-mounted con­trols. How­ever, in-built nav­i­ga­tion, key­less go, and a re­verse cam­era are still miss­ing — you have to make do with prox­im­ity sen­sors when re­vers­ing in­stead. This is some­thing that will work against the Polo be­cause its ri­vals typ­i­cally do come equipped with th­ese fea­tures. On the flip-side, the Polo comes with cruise con­trol, which is not a fea­ture you typ­i­cally see in cars be­long­ing to this seg­ment.

The cabin space is ad­e­quate and the in­clu­sion of man­ual driver’s side seat height ad­just­ment along with tilt and tele­scopic ad­just­ment for the steer­ing means you can get your po­si­tion set up just so when be­hind the wheel. The big change,

though, is the small en­gine and the ac­com­pa­ny­ing five-speed man­ual trans­mis­sion. The 999-cc in-line three pro­duces 76 PS at 6,200 rpm and 95 Nm from 3,000–4,300 rpm and is qui­eter than a church mouse wear­ing woolly socks when on idle and even at low revs. The sonic ex­pe­ri­ence in the cabin is aug­mented by the de­cent level of sound damp­ing and a sur­pris­ingly good speaker set-up which pro­vides crisp and bal­anced play­back. The en­gine doesn’t of­fer up the most ex­cite­ment, though, with a 0-100 km/h time just shy of 20 sec­onds it is quite a bit slower than its ri­vals. A top speed of 150 km/h is up there with the rest, though.

The gear­box is smooth and shifts are slick, so re­peated shift­ing in traf­fic won’t weigh on you and the Polo’s ride and han­dling are among its big­gest high­lights. Whether it comes to weav­ing through city traf­fic or tack­ling cor­ners, the steer­ing feels pre­cise and the car planted. Even when ab­sorb­ing the peaks and troughs of our tar­mac, the car’s sus­pen­sion does a great job. An­other pos­i­tive is the brak­ing. Sharp, pro­gres­sive, and com­mu­nica­tive, the brakes are top-notch and with ABS and dual-front airbags as stan­dard on top of the brak­ing per­for­mance, the cabin of the new Polo is def­i­nitely a safe place to be in.

You’re look­ing at a price tag of Rs 7.43 lakh (ex-show­room) for this car and it of­fered us a fuel ef­fi­ciency fig­ure of 11.75 km/l over­all. The Polo is a tidy lit­tle hatch that is safe and dy­nam­i­cally sound but lacks that oomph in terms of per­for­mance or fea­tures that its ri­vals of­fer. It isn’t the most ef­fi­cient hatch in its seg­ment ei­ther and, to be hon­est, the car is start­ing to show its senes­cence among the young bucks in its seg­ment. There are a few things work­ing in its favour, but for the most part, of­fer­ings in a sim­i­lar price-bracket have a lot more kit and a bit more ex­cite­ment, too; some­thing that I, for one, am find­ing dif­fi­cult to look past.

( Be­low) The cabin has an un­der­stated dual-tone theme

( Right) All im­por­tant con­trols are in­te­grated neatly into the door han­dle

( Above) The fru­gal 1.0 MPI petrol en­gine is the sig­nif­i­cant change

( Left) Rear knee room is a lit­tle tight

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